Software updates

We all wish computers were easier to use, more reliable, or capable of more things. To meet these demands, software is always evolving.

For all the good it brings, this endless change also creates a continuous supply of flaws, called bugs. Many go unnoticed until software is in widespread use.

Some bugs turn out to be vulnerabilities, meaning they can be exploited by hackers to steal information, extort money, or attack other systems.

Thankfully, the same evolution that produces bugs means they can be fixed, too. Keeping current with software updates is one of the best ways to stay safe online.

The Internet has made it easy for vendors to issue updates and for us to install them. Indeed, many install automatically. Others require your input—to provide a password, agree to terms, or restart the computer. It’s a good idea to know what software is on your computer and how it updates.

Upgrades

Some updates are more significant than others; these are often called upgrades. An upgrade may have side effects, like preventing other software from working until it too is upgraded, or rendering your computer incompatible with an older printer. While it’s still usually advisable to install upgrades, you may want to read about them or seek advice first.

Obsolescence

Newer software may require more resources or particular hardware, so some updates are available only for more recent or more highly-specified computers. If your computer is too old or not powerful enough for an update, you may be left with reduced security and without newer features.

Over time, a computer that cannot be further updated may even become less capable, as the services and devices around it evolve and leave it behind.

For these reasons, you may sometimes be advised to replace an ageing computer even if it isn’t broken.